New 68-spot child care center to open in Grand Forks

North Dakota's need for child care is great, according to Gov. Doug Burgum. El Way Child Care and Learning Center hopes to help fill the void.

El Way child care Grand Forks.jpg
A rendering of the new El Way Child Care and Learning Center, expected to open in May in Grand Forks.

GRAND FORKS — In September, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum proposed a much-needed boost in day care opportunities for providers, as well as for those looking for day care for children.

Legislation is working its way through North Dakota’s Legislature.

In September, it was announced that Burgum wants to spend up to $80 million in state savings over the next two years to address child care in the state.

North Dakota has “tens of thousands” of unfilled jobs, and many families “have to make a choice to work and pay for child care or not work at all,” Burgum said in September.

He said North Dakota has more than 64,000 children under the age of 5 in some 45,000 households across the state.


The state’s more than 800 licensed child care providers employ more than 6,000 people, he said.

“In spite of that … working families are experiencing a child care crisis,” Burgum said. “There are more children than there are slots.”

One of the new businesses hoping to take advantage of the provider need is Grand Forks’ El Way Child Care and Learning Center.

The husband-wife team and Stephen Holmes and Dee Decimus Holmes bought the former LISTEN Center buildings on North Washington Street. The main building will house a 68-child day care. Ages will be birth to 5 years old.

In the house next door to the facility, El Way plans a three-person home for individuals with disabilities.

Renovations are under way. The facilities expect to open by May 22.

The company received a $375,00 grant from the Regional Workforce Incentive Program to buy a large portion of the properties it acquired from the LISTEN Center.

El Way plans to have three full-time employees – director, assistant director and a chef – and as many as 40 part-timers.


The owners are both business owners elsewhere in the Grand Forks area. Dee Decimus Holmes runs All Embracing Home Care and Stephen Holmes has Horizon Property Management. He will have an office at El Way to overlook operations.

They are pleased to start another business in Grand Forks.

“All the support that this town offers for business owners and entrepreneurs is just amazing,” Decimus Holmes said.

They decided to go ahead with the business while on their honeymoon and drew up the El Way logo that day. Exactly a year later, on May 22, they hope to open the business.

Faith-based El Way will stress hands-on learning, from children growing plants in the garden to dishing out their own food in the lunchroom to learning colors and building things.

“Any new licensed child care center in our region should be viewed as a huge boon,” said Becca Cruger, director of workforce development at the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation. “Adding 60 new slots certainly should be celebrated as a win. I know solving our region’s child care challenge is something our community leaders have had a keen eye on, especially as it relates to helping parents get back to work to support their families."

Kevin Fee is a freelance reporter for the Herald.
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